For all we know, animals do not grasp the concept of private property, and your pet certainly does not want to upset you by taking your things.
Here is why your dog might be stealing your shoes:
- It is hoarding resources out of instinct
- It is a retrieving breed
- You haven’t provided it with enough toys
- It is attracted by the smell of your shoes
- Your shoes serve as a security blanket
- It is seeking your attention
- Out of habit
Why Does My Dog Steal My Shoes?
Everyone who’s ever had a dog is used to the sight of their puppy happily trotting off with a shoe or a slipper in its mouth. It’s funny and cute the first two or three times it happens, but after that, it just becomes annoying — especially if it means you have to buy a new pair of shoes. It also makes you wonder, Why does my dog steal my shoes?
The first thing we need to clear up is that your dog is not actually stealing. For all we know, animals do not grasp the concept of private property, and your pet certainly does not want to upset you by taking your things. However, there’s a host of reasons behind your dog’s behavior.
Ever Asked Why Does My Dog Steal My Shoes? Here’s the Answer
Dogs, like many other mammals — including humans, have a natural instinct to gather and hoard resources for future use. That is why your dog might be digging holes to hide bones and pieces of food in your backyard. That instinct also extends to other items your dog cherishes, such as its favorite toys or… your shoes.
It’s in the Breed
Certain dog breeds that have been selected and trained to work alongside humans might be more prone to carrying objects in their mouths — including shoes. That is especially true for retrieving dogs, such as spaniels and retrievers, which were bred to track and bring back small game and birds during hunting. These breeds have the so-called “soft mouth,” or a well-regulated bite inhibition that allows them to hold and carry fragile objects without breaking them.
Not Enough Toys
Dogs and kids have one thing in common: they both need toys. Lots of toys. Exploring and playing with different items and textures helps them with their cognitive development. It’s also a source of fun and comfort and gives them something to do when you are not around.
If you do not provide your canine friend with enough things to play with, you can be sure that it will find some on its own. Shoes are prime candidates for dog toys: they are just the right size, easy to carry around and come with a ton of exciting scents.
Ah, That Smell!
Dogs have a much better-developed sense of smell than humans, so they get a lot more excited about scents. What’s more, they don’t seem to find certain scents nearly as repulsive as we do. We cringe at the smell of dirty shoes and socks, but dogs can’t seem to get enough of it. In addition, leather shoes might smell like food to a dog, and it might be tempted to gnaw on them.
To a canine, your shoes smell a lot like you. We have a disproportionate amount of sweat glands on our feet, and dogs can certainly tell. And if your puppy loves you, they love your smell too. As a result, they may want to have your shoes around at all times as a sort of security blanket that reminds them of you.
Your dog is smart. If it notices that you jump from the sofa and start playing chase every time it steals your shoes, it will keep doing just that. Pets love spending quality time with their humans, and if you don’t give them enough attention during the day, they will go to great lengths to elicit a reaction from you.
Old Habits Die Hard
Regardless of the motivation, if your pooch does something repeatedly, it will soon become a deep-entrenched habit. And old habits can be hard to break.
How to Make Your Dog Stop Stealing Your Shoes
Now that you have the answer to the question, Why does my dog steal my shoes? you are probably wondering if there is anything that can be done to stop it. Here are a few tips and tricks that could help change your pet’s behavior.
Hide Your Shoes
Why make things more complicated than they need to be? The best way to stop your dog from doing something is by not giving it the opportunity to do it in the first place. So, simply store your shoes somewhere your dog cannot reach.
Give Your Dog Other Toys
Provide your dog with plenty of toys that come in various sizes and textures. And if they have an appealing scent or make noises — even better. That should be enough to keep your pooch busy and away from your shoes.
Provide Your Dog with Enough Stimulation
Just like you, your dog needs plenty of exercises as well as mental and emotional stimulation. Make sure to keep boredom at bay by spending quality time with your pooch every day. Otherwise, your dog will resort to its own devices to keep itself occupied — which could mean chewing on your shoes.
Stop Playing Chase
If your dog is after the thrill of the chase, make sure not to react whenever it steals a shoe or any other object. Do not shout, jump, or run. Instead, break eye contact, turn your back at the dog, and only reward it with attention or a treat when it drops or returns the stolen item.
Spray Your Shoes with Bitter Spray
If nothing else seems to work, consider spraying your shoes with anti-dog bitter spray. However, make sure to test the spray on a small area of your shoes first, as it may damage more sensitive materials such as leather.
Teach Your Dog The “Leave It!” Command
If you want to go professional about it, try teaching your dog the “Leave it!” command. Using a head collar and leash, walk the dog toward an object it would want to pick up, such as a plastic bottle or paper bag. As soon as the dog reaches for the object, say “Leave it!” and tug on the leash to turn the dog’s head toward you. Give it a treat and say, “Good dog!” right after.
Repeat this process until the dog starts turning its head without you pulling on the leash. Gradually, phase out the food rewards but keep the “Good dog” praise.
Why Does My Dog Steal My Shoes: Final Thoughts
Now you know that you should not be asking Why does my dog steal my shoes? Rather, the question is, What needs is my dog trying to meet by taking my shoes? Do your best to try to understand your dog and give it what it needs. The better you get to know your puppy, the healthier and happier your relationship will be.